* Posts by Old Tom

225 publicly visible posts • joined 3 Mar 2009


UK immigration rules hit science just as it rejoins €100B Horizon program

Old Tom


"that the re-joining of the Horizon program was intended to appease"

No, re-joining Horizon was always the plan, it was in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. There was a massive gap simply because the Commission unilaterally delayed as leverage in the status of Northern Ireland,

So this one time, at Bandcamp, half the staff were laid off

Old Tom

Don't need curation

As a regular buyer from Bandcamp - although it's tough for the folk involved - I don't really care that the editorial department that promotes new music is now down to three people, for me they could axe the whole department, I wasn't really aware they had such a department apart from the fact that someone must be choosing 'album of the day'.

I'm happy to get alerts from their computer when artists on my list release something. Otherwise, I just go there looking for something specific (first port of call as the artist will get more money than if I buy from any other retailer) or to see what's available for specific artists.

Post-Brexit tariffs on cross EU-UK electrical vehicle imports still going ahead

Old Tom

Re: You've got to laugh, haven't you?

It's hilarious how those who denied (the reality) that freedom of movement held down wages for British people in lesser-paid jobs ("Brexit lies") are now finally admitting that in fact wages were indeed being held down. Sadly, the suggested solution is 'get more people who are willing to do the job cheaply' rather than 'pay what we need to to get the staff'.

Airline puts international passengers on the scales pre-flight

Old Tom

It would slow security down as they'd need need to know who they were scanning. Plus reconciling a currently anonymous scan with a personal record would introduce all kinds of privacy issues.

Google Photos AI still can't label gorillas after racist errors

Old Tom

Re: Alphabetic discrimination

As a person of late-alphabet surname initial, I can confirm that alphabetic discrimination is very much alive and well, pervasive and systemic.

India calls for all mobile phones to include FM radios

Old Tom

Re: FM has uses even in the UK

A common use for FM on my phone is listening to pre- & post- match football claptrap on local radio while going to and from a match. Much better than trying to stream in the vicinity of a stadium when you're competing with thousands of other people for throughput on overloaded masts, and anyway as you say they cut the internet feed during play and always seem slow to restore it afterwards. (Not to mention that it's only recently that I've had a big enough data allowance to stream.)

BBC is still struggling with the digital switch, says watchdog

Old Tom

"not touching a Murdoch box"

Sky was taken over by Comcast in 2018, it isn't Murdoch any more.

Bill Gates' nuclear power plant stalled by Russian fuel holdup

Old Tom

40 metric tons

Notwithstanding that many El Reg readers might prefer 26⅔ Skateboarding Rhinos, wouldn't '40 tonnes' be easier to write?

I know people say 'metric ton[ne]' to avoid confusion with the US (short) & Imperial (long) Ton, but does it really matter in these contexts? They're not that much different, but in the written word we can see the difference anyway.

UK arrests five for selling 'dodgy' point of sale software

Old Tom

Re: designed and sold electronic sales suppression systems internationally

Bizarre that Brexit would cross anyone's mind on this subject (and you're not the first to mention it in the comments to this story).

I guess it shows how deeply ingrained it has become among some to look for a Brexit angle in almost anything.

Massive energy storage system goes online in UK

Old Tom


Indeed, for a bob/shilling you could get 12 penny arrow bars, but only 10 for five of your new pence.

Old Tom

Per home usage

I always hate it when we're told some fantasy number of homes that power schemes will power. In this case they're saying that 196MWh will last 300,000 homes for two hours but that allows each home less than 1/3kW. Is 1/3kW a standard per-home figure in such calculations or do they just make numbers up to suit?

Locked out of Horizon Europe, UK commits half a billion to post-Brexit research

Old Tom

Re: "the UK remains open to association"

It's nothing to do with "getting EU funding", nobody's asking for EU funds. Sixteen non-EU countries participate in Horizon both paying and receiving funds (that's Horizon funds, not EU funds), membership of Horizon is not dependent on EU membership.

I refer you to the first part of the sentence that you quoted the end of - "The government is disappointed that the EU is still linking UK association with wider issues" - this is the nub of the matter: in the Withdrawal Agreement the EU and UK agreed that the UK would participate in ongoing research projects, including Horizon, but the EU have prevaricated on implementing that agreement on Horizon as a lever in the ongoing dispute over NI.

It's up to them if they want to make such mard-arsed 'I won't be your friend' decisions, but it looks like they are, and the UK can't wait forever and so allocating the would-be Horizon contribution to research within the UK.

Girls Who Code books 'banned' in some US classrooms

Old Tom

Re: Bow down before the market god

I won't repeat myself again after this, but anything with VAT on in a member state can not have its rate cut to less than 5%.

HM Gov did not lie, they could not go below 5% without either leaving or getting cross-state agreed and ratified permission; the latter had been fought/lobbied for for many years and was in fact in the very slow pipeline, eventually it might have been allowed but not in 2016, and I don't think even now.

If you negotiated exemptions when joining - as the UK did on food, books and children's clothing - then you can keep those VAT free. But once you add VAT to a formerly exempt product - as the UK did on household gas & electricity - you can't then remove it (hence the 5% rate we still have on household energy bills - HM Gov could now drop this, but choose not to do so).

Ireland included sanitary products (and "Supplies of wax candles and night-lights that are white and cylindrical, excluding candles and night-lights that are decorated, spiralled, tapered or perfumed") on their zero-rated list when they joined, the UK did not.

Old Tom

Re: Bow down before the market god


We had the power to drop to the minimum (5%), we were powerless to drop to zero.

Old Tom

Re: Bow down before the market god

"You're ignoring the part where the EU also removed the tax on those products shortly afterwards."

Citation please, as Ireland seems to be the only one zero-rating them (and that's a historic derogation, not a recent one).

Meta, Google learn the art of the quiet layoff

Old Tom

Re: An old trick in the US

UK workers rights often exceed EU ones - e.g. 52 weeks maternity leave (39 paid) v. 14 weeks paid, 2 weeks paternity leave v. none, 28 days annual leave vs 20 days...

The Equal Pay, Sex Discrimination, Health and Safety at Work and Employment Protection Acts didn't come from Brussels, the only significant improvement I can remember coming from the EU was the working time directive.

The UK is perfectly capable of maintaining standards outside the EU.

Braking news: Cops slammed for spamming Waze to slow drivers down

Old Tom

Highways Agency

Most times I see a police icon in Waze it turns out to be a Highways Agency patrol vehicle.

Left-wing campaign group throws weight behind BT strikes

Old Tom

Re: enough is enough

Well they describe themselves - https://wesayenough.co.uk/about-us/ - in a way that most people would call left wing. Are you really suggesting that they're not?

UK launches 'consultation' with EU over exclusion from science programs

Old Tom

We did leave the EU, of course - but in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement it was agreed that the UK would be (along with a dozen and a half other non-member states) a participant of the Horizon programme. Not being a member state doesn't have to prevent us remaining friends and collaborators.

Unfortunately, having decided that delaying ratification is a good bargaining chip against unrelated matters; the Commission are delaying ratification for political reasons. This is much to the chagrin of many EU academics and researchers - https://www.euractiv.com/section/uk-europe/news/eu-must-immediately-accept-uk-into-horizon-europe-say-blocs-research-leaders/

Mars Express orbiter to get code update after 19 years

Old Tom

Re: Astounding

"using a development environment based on Microsoft Windows 98"

It's very unlikely that it's the OS on the orbiter.

Apple to bin apps that go three years without updates

Old Tom

Re: Oh...THAT business model

Not just the annual fee, but...

  • you need to build with an approved version of XCode
  • the approved version of XCode requires an approved version of MacOS
  • the approved version of MacOS requires a new Mac every few years

John Deere tractors 'bricked' after Russia steals machinery from Ukraine

Old Tom

Re: the French did share information on the Exocet with the British

No according to today's Telegraph - the article claims that the British took apart an Exocet seeker head in order to help develop electronic counter measures.


Yes, Mark Zuckerberg is still pushing metaverse. Next step, language translation

Old Tom

Metaverse, Schmetaverse

This will never fly.

Have they not considered the percentage of Facebook activity that takes place in a browser tab as a sideline to what you're actually doing, on mobiles during transit, and while ostensibly watching the telly?

i.e. Most Facebooking is a secondary activity, can anyone here imagine ever thinking "I'll dedicate the next half hour to Facebooking"?

Zuck's C5 moment?

Randox's Certifly app for vaccinated international arrivals has to be side-loaded onto Android phones

Old Tom

For what it's worth...

"Randox can confirm the CertiFly app has been submitted to Google and is awaiting review." (Nov 2021)

This app is still not on Google Play and still must be sideloaded. After checking and double-checking that you've downloaded the apk from randox.com, the first thing it does is ask to scan your passport. Red flags waving like mad.

Longest Google Play review period I've ever heard of! Must be the first app in history that got onto the iOS store and can't get on to Google Play. What the hell is going on with it?

What a clock up: Brit TV-broadband giant Sky fails to pick up weekend's timezone change, fix due by Friday

Old Tom

Re: More BST than GMT

The dates were set to the current ones when the EU harmonised clock switching in Directive 2000/84/EC. Before that, in the 90's, I think I remember Germany switching around the September/October cusp and the UK a week or two later.


Brewdog might make an OK pint but its security sucks: Flaw opened door to free beers for anyone

Old Tom

Re: Every mobile phone has a birthday

Although not the best, you probably got a reasonable pint in a Marston house whereas although Brew Dog might make reasonable beer, they insist on serving it fizzy and over-chilled.

Oh the humanity: McDonald's out of milkshakes across Great Britain

Old Tom

Border Bureaucracy?

"Brexit has made it more expensive for drivers from the continent to work in Britain. Hauliers tend to be paid by distance rather than hours worked so additional border bureaucracy and delays hit their salary."

How often on a typical run does a driver delivering milkshakes to McDonalds outlets get delayed by border bureaucracy?

Buyout of British defence supplier Ultra Electronics paused by UK.gov over competition concerns

Old Tom

Re: Sovereignty

Trident missiles use astro-inertial guidance - they look at stars, they don't piss about with GPS.

Maintenance in US because it's cheaper than having our own facilities, this does not give the US any control over missiles not undergoing maintenance.

Verified: UK.gov launching plans for yet another digital identity scheme

Old Tom

Re: Don't hold your breath #3

The NHS Covid app will not be your 'Covid Passport', that's already included in the NHS app - and that does phone home, indeed you have to sign-in every time you run it.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee's World Wide Web NFT fetches $5.4m at auction while rest of us gaze upon source code for $0

Old Tom

I wouldn't want a 'luxury brand' at all, whether in the real or digital world.

Treaty of Roam finally in ashes: O2 cracks, joins rivals, adds data roaming charges for heavy users in EU

Old Tom

Re: Ummm..

It's almost as if a couple of large international telecoms companies have announced excess data roaming charges (that they could have applied anyway were we still EU members) on the 5th anniversary of the referendum just to ensure that people would blame Brexit rather than them.

Roger Waters tells Facebook CEO to Zuck off after 'huge' song rights request

Old Tom

Re: Mooseman

I'm with you on the talking/phone call things, but gigs are best experienced with beer, which does mean that one occasionally needs to go to the bar/toilet - it would be best if you didn't place yourself in a high-traffic place.

Google says once third-party cookies are toast, Chrome won't help ad networks track individuals around the web

Old Tom

René Magritte

Recently I couldn't remember René Magritte's name; a google search or two later and my memory was jogged, case over. Except that I then see adverts featuring some of his work for weeks afterwards.

'Targetted Advertising' is complete rubbish.

(And we've all had those repeated adverts for something we've already bought or that we never wanted to buy but recently researched.)

Seagate UK customer stung by VAT on replacement drive shipped via the Netherlands

Old Tom

Re: Seagate need to adjust their operations.

For Seagate to absorb the VAT in this case by sending it first to Seagate UK, paying the VAT, then shipping it to the customer ...

VAT is payable when goods/services are sold/bought. Seagate UK would neither buy nor sell the replacement, no VAT would be due.

Old Tom

Seagate need to adjust their operations.

Seagate are well aware of problems like this - their statement acknowledges it. Their behaviour and statement on this occasion are pretty shitty. Companies of this size should get their act together, recognise that UK customers are not in the EU and adjust their operations appropriately.

(This applies whatever you think of Brexit.)

1Password has none, KeePass has none... So why are there seven embedded trackers in the LastPass Android app?

Old Tom

Re: Congrats to El Reg

I'm pretty sure that El Reg is still in Europe.

European Commission redacts AstraZeneca vaccine contract – but forgets to wipe the bookmarks tab

Old Tom

Re: vitriolic comments

The vitriolic comments are a reaction to Ursula von der Leyen's comments and behaviour. Slagging off AZ, raiding the production site, threatening the UK's supply of Pfizer/Biontech, putting a border between Ireland/NI. Behaving like a tantrum-infused child in reaction to her/the Commission's own failure.

That border provision is supposed to be a last resort and she's taken less than 4 weeks to abuse it. Furthermore she did it against advice, and without consulting - or even informing - relevant parties (Irish Taoiseach, UK PM, NI Executive).

She's been asserting a contractual situation that is not borne out by the now-published contract with its Estimated Delivery Schedule. If she were to resign, I'm sure things would calm down much quicker.

Analogue radio given 10-year stay of execution as the UK U-turns on DAB digital future

Old Tom

Large crowds / widlerness

I regularly listen to FM radio using my mobile phone; it much works pretty much everywhere, anytime.

If I'm competing with thousands of others for the local tower's capacity in/around a football stadium on match day I doubt that I'd get the throughput to listen to a live Internet radio stream; if I'm in the wilderness, there is no internet radio. This is why my personal minimum spec for a phone includes FM radio.

Other negatives for streaming include the required data allowances and the massive latency of the broadcast - listen to streamed football commentary and your 'latest scores' app will notify you of a goal/event way before you hear it happen on the 'live' broadcast. Also, I'd be very surprised if streaming used less power than FM

Health Sec Hancock says UK will use Apple-Google API for virus contact-tracing app after all (even though Apple were right rotters)

Old Tom

Did he really promise a “world-beating app.”?

My recollection is that he promised a world-beating track and trace system, to which the app contributed. That may well not have been delivered, but unless someone can point me to it I don't think he ever said the app would be world-beating.

Barmy ban on businesses, Brits based in Blighty bearing or buying .eu domains is back: Cut-off date is Jan 1, 2021

Old Tom

"once Brexit is finally cancelled."

You know it happened on 31st January 2020?

Total Eclipse to depart: Open-source software foundation is hopping the pond to Europe

Old Tom

Re: Why?

The copy included the words 'Europe' and 'Brussels'. Some obsessives - mostly those that still don't get it - think that you have to mention Brexit whenever these words are used; many think that Brexiteers don't like Europe or Brussels (not realising that the UK is still in Europe).

DBA locked in police-guarded COVID-19-quarantine hotel for the last week shares his story with The Register

Old Tom

Re: And this is why the Aussies are on top of it

This half school year can be generally be written off - not because the teachers have not tried to provide remote work for the children, but because so many children (with their parents blessing) have not done any of the work

Maybe some teachers have bothered, I'm unaware of anything other than vague stuff on Twitter from my kids' school.

Meanwhile - if any work was set - some of us parents are working full-time, and while we would love our children to stay quiet and get on with educational things, we have our own work to do.

Fancy some post-weekend reading? How's this for a potboiler: The source code for UK, Australia's coronavirus contact-tracing apps

Old Tom

Re: Apple-Google API

The API requires Android 6.0 or higher, not 8.

Brexit Britain changes its mind, says non, nein, no to Europe's unified patent court – potentially sealing its fate

Old Tom

Re: The lawyers will be fine.

Except that the UK remains in the EPC regardless of whether or not it remains party to the UPC.

The dream of a single European patent may die next month – and everyone is in denial about it

Old Tom

Re: Brexit voters will be happy

As far as I can tell from minimal research, neither the European Patent Office nor its parent the European Patent Organisation is in any way connected to either the EU or the Euro Zone.

Say GDP-aaaR: UK's Information Commissioner pours £275k fine into London pharmacy's teaspoon

Old Tom

No, 'No Deal' plans will not apply if we leave as planned

"Come Jan 31, if the UK leaves the EU as planned, Brexit will trigger a statutory instrument that changes some text to create a "UK GDPR". The little kingdom's Data Protection Act 2018 will also get tweaked. You can see the expected changes here. ®"

No, your link is to changes planned for "the event the UK leaves the EU without a deal". Come Jan 31, if the UK leaves the EU as planned, 'no deal' plans will not come into effect. Please keep up.

(Unless, of course you're talking about Ben and Holly when you mention a 'little kingdom'.)

Uncle Sam challenged in court for slurping social media info on 'millions' of visa applicants

Old Tom

The whole gamut

My social media 'friends' are a mixed bag covering all sorts of opinion - between them they've likely posted both pro- and anti- <whatever you're thinking of> comments; my own comments might give you an idea of my character, but their comments absolutely will not.

Fancy yourself as a bit of a Ramblin' Man or Woman? Maybe brush up on your cartography

Old Tom

Re: Other options....

I did use Viewranger with 1:50000 OS maps in conjunction with paper 1:25000 OS map, but since the map codes I now have the 1:25000 in the OS app - so now I find that I don't look at Viewranger so much, although I still record trails with that as the OS trail recording was not fit for purpose last time I tried it.

Brexit? HP Inc laughs in the face of Brexit! Hard or soft, PC maker claims it's 'no significant risk'

Old Tom

Re: Y2K

The date was fixed, but vested interests remainers pushed it back, and keep trying to keep doing so.